Hollywood makes a heartwarming house call
Kids in hospital beds are like kites without wind. You see them there and wish a gust would come along, lift them up and carry them to where they long to be. Anywhere but here.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Kids in hospital beds are like kites without wind.
You see them there and wish a gust would come along, lift them up and carry them to where they long to be. Anywhere but here.
Tyler Bidle, 15, has wanted to be in a lot of places since he was diagnosed with bone cancer three years ago.
The Bush School, where he would be a junior this year.
Paris, where he went with his mother, Kathy, and loved it.
And the movies, where he wanted to see "50/50," about a Seattle guy who gets cancer.
Not long ago, Tyler shared this with his social worker, Maureen Horgan, who works for Providence Hospice of Seattle — and, it turns out, knows someone in the movie business.
"I am someone who is not afraid to ask," Horgan told me. "People are usually a big 'No, no, no' because it's easier to say no."
Especially for Hollywood studios, which have always been more focused on numbers than hearts.
But Summit Entertainment, which produced "50/50," was different.
Within two days of hearing about Tyler, the studio gave technical-services director Ryan Benson a copy of the movie, and, with donations from Horgan's friends at another studio, sent him to Seattle.
"The movie hadn't been out for even a week, so there were concerns about piracy," Benson told me. "If we're sending out a brand-new movie, anywhere, we're going to have someone go with it."
But once he got to the Bidle house and walked into the first-floor room where Tyler now spends his days and nights in a hospital bed, none of that mattered.
"I could tell that Tyler had been through a lot," Benson said. "He wasn't doing well, but he was friendly and open and talkative."
That was good, because Benson, a father of three, had a few things he wanted to discuss before he put in the DVD.
"50/50" is R-rated. One sex scene, ample sex talk, some swearing and lots of marijuana. Lots of it.
"I am definitely pro medical marijuana," Tyler told him, adding that he inhales vapors, which have helped him regain the 20 pounds he lost during his treatments. "There's a big controversy and I just want to put my piece in there."
As for swearing? Horgan once suggested Tyler make a cast of his hands, so he did — with one of his middle fingers extended. ("My ode to cancer," he calls it.)
Satisfied, Benson popped in the movie and went into the living room with his iPad. Tyler's mother, aunt and friend stayed to watch.
"I backed away from them so they could have their own experience," he said.
Said Kathy Bidle:
"It was just one of those nice moments that you get once in a while."
I went by the house the other day to see Tyler. It's getting close. He is weak. But he had things to say about "50/50," and about his illness.
"I liked that it wasn't just a completely, like, downer movie," he said, "because that's not what the experience of cancer is.
"You do laugh sometimes," he said. "It happens a lot."
And there are times when you don't. He mentioned the scene when the protagonist, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, sits in a car and screams.
Watch that, Tyler told me. That's how he feels.
What people don't understand, he said, is that cancer is not the worst thing in the world.
"But it's close."
On my way out, Kathy handed me a pamphlet about the Tyler Bidle Financial Aid Fund for Experiential Activities the family is establishing at The Bush School.
I tucked it away for a few days. It seemed too much, too sad.
Then I saw it contained a photo of Tyler, before he was bedridden, up in a seaplane.
I was glad to see he knows what it's like to fly.
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
She loves "Forrest Gump," too.
About Nicole Brodeur
My column is more a conversation with readers than a spouting of my own views. I like to think that, in writing, I lay down a bridge between readers and me. It is as much their space as mine. And it is a place to tell the stories that, otherwise, may not get into the paper.
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